Here’s Why Ian McKellen Returned That $1.4M Book Advance

The field of memoir writing is chock full of books that would make better kindling than reading, but there are definitely some larger-than-life stories out there worth chronicling. Sir Ian McKellen recently snagged a whopping $1.4 million advance for a memoir about his incredible life, but the legendary actor decided to return the cash and forgo the project.

McKellen was at the Oxford Literary Festival when he revealed, “I put nine months aside to do it, and I got a very handsome advance. Then I sent the money back… It was a bit painful. I didn’t want to go back into my life and imagine things that I hadn’t understood so far. The privacy of my life I don’t quite understand myself, and it has nothing to do with what I do for a living. So there you go, I’m sorry.”

McKellen, who came out in 1988, has said he regrets waiting so long to come out to the general public. While it’s certainly understandable to decide against writing a deeply personal memoir, it’s a huge loss for fans and Hollywood historians.